Catholic Conference of Ohio
Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Issues - Catholic Conference of Ohio

Immigration Reform

 

The Gospel calls us to welcome immigrants with compassion and hopeful expectation. “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matt. 25:35). Ohio has a large number of Hispanic immigrant workers recruited by businesses to labor year round in Ohio industries. Many are undocumented.

The Catholic Conference of Ohio believes that current federal immigration law is unjust, unnecessarily restrictive and fails to properly balance the rights of immigrant workers and their families with the state’s right to control its borders. We support comprehensive reforms at the national level.

Ohio should show judicious restraint in pursuing state enforcement legislation, especially while federal courts review such initiatives that were enacted in other states.

Catholic Teaching

"God’s love transcends every human barrier, language, culture, and country border. The Gospel calls us to welcome immigrants with compassion and hopeful expectation. “ I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matt. 25:35). These words challenge each of us to see the dignity and sacredness of God that is reflected through people of all cultures and nations, regardless of legal status.

Pope John Paul II stated: “Who is my neighbor? The neighbor is every human being, without exception. It is not necessary to ask his nationality, or to which social or religious group he belongs. If he is in need, he must be helped...

We believe each person has opportunities to reach out in welcome to immigrant workers. Consider the following questions:

  • Are we as a society, as church, as employers, as consumers treating immigrants with dignity and justice?
  • Do my own attitudes toward immigrants reflect God’s love and concern for all persons?
  • How am I involved in reaching out to new immigrants in support of their pastoral and material needs?
  • What am I willing to do on behalf of the justice needs of immigrants?"

God’s Welcoming Presence: A Call To Stand In Solidarity With Ohio’s Immigrants, Ohio Catholic Bishops, February 2001

USCCB Migration Chairman Deeply Disappointed By Administration’s Decision To Terminate The Central American Minors Parole Program

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, expresses his opposition to the Administration's decision to end parole processing for individuals in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala who apply to enter the U.S. through the Central American Minors (CAM) program. Bishop Vasquez, who is currently in El Salvador, says that the elimination of this program puts the lives of vulnerable children at risk for greater harm.

Bishop Vásquez' full statement follows:

"My brother bishops and I are deeply disappointed by the Administration's decision to terminate the critical parole option of the CAM program.  In terminating the parole option, the Administration has unnecessarily chosen to cut off proven and safe alternatives to irregular and dangerous migration for Central American children, including those previously approved for parole who are awaiting travel in their home countries. Pope Francis has called on us to protect migrant children, noting that "among migrants, children constitute the most vulnerable group." We supported the CAM program, which included both refugee and parole options, precisely because it provided a legal and organized way for children to migrate to the United States and reunify with families. Terminating the parole program will neither promote safety for these children nor help our government regulate migration.

In El Salvador, we have seen first-hand the very real problems that these children face. The Church, with its global presence, learns of this violence and persecution every day, in migrant shelters and in repatriation centers. We know that children must be protected. They must be given the ability to remain in their home countries and find opportunities, but they must also be able to leave and migrate safely to find protection when there are no alternatives. The CAM parole program offered part of that solution - a legal way to migrate for the most vulnerable of children."

Ohio Bishops Oppose the Denial of Workers' Compensation to Undocumented Workers

Conference staff provides testimony urging provision to be removed from pending legislation.

Background:

The Ohio House recently passed Workers’ Compensation legislation (HB 27) that includes a provision prohibiting undocumented workers from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ Compensation is funded by employers as an insurance policy which provides medical and compensation benefits for work-related injuries, diseases and deaths.

Bishops Statement:

The Catholic Bishops of Ohio are opposed to the denial of workers’ compensation benefits to undocumented workers.

We have consistently called for meaningful immigration reform. In our April 2017 letter to Congress, we, again, called upon elected officials to address our country’s broken immigration system through a comprehensive reform that improves security and creates more legal and transparent paths to immigration.

We do not condone unauthorized entry into the United States.  Yet, once undocumented immigrants are here and working, their human dignity itself should guarantee basic compensation and protections for the work they provide.

In our Catholic teaching, work is first and foremost the very expression of the human person in the world and participation in God’s creation.  When someone engages in work for an employer, that person should receive just remuneration and just worker protections. Respecting a person’s human dignity should remain paramount. (Pope St. John Paul II, Laborem Exercens, nos. 6, 19, 23)

Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy that the employer pays in recognition of the worker’s labor. It provides medical and compensation benefits for work-related injuries, diseases and deaths. It should be available to all workers regardless of their legal status. Denying workers’ compensation to undocumented workers may result in more abuses by unscrupulous employers to this already often exploited population.

Bishops Statement (PDF)
Catholic Conference of Ohio Testimony
Links on Immigration Reform

Chairmen from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Raise Concerns over Proposed Federal Budget

The moral measure of the federal budget is how well it promotes the common good of all, especially the most vulnerable

President Trump's proposed budget calls for a sharp increase in military spending while making significant cuts across much of the rest of government, including reductions in many long-standing federal programs that assist the poor and vulnerable.

In letters to both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, the bishops reaffirmed the federal budget as a moral document containing profound implications for the common good of our nation and world. The letter states that the "budget requires difficult decisions that ought to be guided by moral criteria that protect human life and dignity, give central importance to 'the least of these' (Matthew 25), and promote the welfare of workers and families who struggle to live in dignity."

"Sharp increases in defense and immigration enforcement spending, coupled with simultaneous and severe reductions to non-defense discretionary spending, particularly to many domestic and international programs that assist the most vulnerable, would be profoundly troubling.  Such deep cuts would pose a threat to the security of our nation and world, and would harm people facing dire circumstances. When the impact of other potential legislative proposals, including health care and tax policies, are taken into account, the prospects for vulnerable people become even bleaker." 

The letter was signed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, Chairman, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop George V. Murry, SJ, of Youngstown, Chairman, Committee on Catholic Education, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, of Burlington, Chairman, Committee on Communications, and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman, Committee on Migration. 

The full text of the letter sent to the U.S. Senate/U.S. House of Representatives is available at:  

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/federal-budget/letter-to-congress-on-fy-2018-federal-budget-2017-05-19.cfm

U.S. Bishops Chairman Calls On Senate To Strip Harmful Proposals From House-Passed Health Care Bill

American Health Care Act still contains major defects

After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Senate to strip out the harmful provisions of the bill when the chamber takes it up for consideration.

"Even with efforts to improve the bill before passage, the American Health Care Act still contains major defects, particularly regarding changes to Medicaid that risk coverage and affordability for millions; it is deeply disappointing that the voices of those who will be most severely impacted were not heeded," said Bishop Dewane. "The AHCA does offer critical life protections, and our health care system desperately needs these safeguards. But still, vulnerable people must not be left in poor and worsening circumstances as Congress attempts to fix the current and impending problems with the Affordable Care Act."

Full Statement
Statement of Concern by the Catholic Health Association
Statement of Concern by Catholic Charities USA

Archdiocese of Cincinnati Pleads for the Non-deportation of Maribel Trujillo

Previous Immigration ruling had declared her case "low priority and no treat to public safety" - new hearing issues a deportation order

On April 5, 2017, ICE officials arrested Trujillo-Diaz. who has no criminal record and no repeat immigration violations. The breadwinner of her family and primary caretaker to her children, ages 14 to 3, faces an April 11 deportation. On April 6, 2017 the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, issued the follwing statement: 

"The Trump Administration has repeatedly announced that its approach towards immigration enforcement would focus on public safety and removing criminal elements from our communities.  Today, we plea to our political leaders and law enforcement to live up to that in the case of Maribel Trujillo Diaz, a devoted wife and mother and outstanding member of her church and community.  

Maribel, a wife, a mother of four and an active member of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Hamilton, fled Mexico in 2002.  She currently has a pending asylum case, based on the situation that her family has been targeted by Mexican cartels because they have refused to work for them. 

Last year, when Maribel was close to deportation, thousands of Catholic faithful and other supporters throughout Butler County and Cincinnati sent letters, pleading for her to stay.  Immigration officials then responded by granting her prosecutorial discretion, considering her too low of a priority and no threat to public safety.  Maribel has been reporting regularly since then to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as instructed.  At her check-in appointment on Monday, she was told that she could remain at home as her asylum case was further reviewed.  Suddenly yesterday, ICE arrived at her brother’s house as she prepared to go to work, taking her into custody for imminent deportation without having the chance to say goodbye to all her children.  This is cruel and unacceptable.

Maribel has made a life in Ohio based on positive contributions to her church and her community.  She has no criminal history.  She is a lay leader at her parish, whose members are surrounding her with prayers that she be permitted to remain with them and her family.  Maribel’s children, ages 14, 12, 10 and 3, are all U.S. citizens.  Her 3-year-old daughter has recurring seizures and requires the attention and care of her mother.

We urge that prosecutorial discretion for Maribel be extended.  We fully respect the Department of Homeland Security’s duty to enforce our immigration laws, and we recognize that this is not an easy task.  At the same time, it is clear that the common good cannot be served at this stage by separating this wife and mother from her family.  Our community gains nothing by being left with a single-parent household when such a responsible and well respected family can be kept together.  We urge that our elected and administrative officials exercise mercy for Maribel."  

More information

Ohio Bishops Issue Letter of Concern regarding Changes to Immigration and Migration

Call for comprehensive reform, support for children and intact families, enforcement efforts that focus on threats to public safety, and maintaining programs for refugees

The Bishops call upon Congress to address our nation's broken immigration system through comprehensive reform that improves security and creates more legal and transparent paths to immigration. 

While not advocating for the breaking of laws, the Bishops urge a more humane enforcement of immigration laws that distinguishes between actual criminals and otherwise law-abiding, undocumented immigrant family members. 

In Ohio, the Catholic Church has a refugee resettlement network that resettled over 1000 refugees in 2016. Catholic parishes and diocesan offices also work in collaboration with other refugee resettlement programs in Ohio. These programs have safely and compassionately resettled refugees from all over the world, including a small number from Syria.  The refugee program is one of the most vetted processes for entry into the United States.  The Bishops do not oppose efforts to improve on the system, should there be a need.  However, the temporary shutdown of all refugee admissions, and the more than 60 percent reduction in the number of refugees who can be resettled, create a chilling effect on our ability to maintain programs and ongoing assistance. 

The Bishops also encourage Congress to pass the BRIDGE Act: S.128/H.R. 496. This Act will protect the dignity of DACA-eligible youth by ensuring that these individuals, who were brought to the United States as children and are contributing so much to our nation, can continue to live their lives free of the anxiety that they could be deported at any time.

New Executive Order On Refugees Still Leaves Many Innocent Lives At Risk

Catholic leaders remain concerned

The Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, says that President Trump's latest Executive Order still puts vulnerable populations around the world at risk. In a statement issued after the announcement of the travel suspension, Bishop Vásquez says that while we seek to maintain our values and safety, we must also exercise compassion in assisting and continuing to welcome the stranger. 

Please Support the BRIDGE ACT and DACA Youth

The BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) Act, S.128/H.R. 496, was recently introduced in Congress as a bipartisan effort to sustain the temporary relief from deportation and employment eligibility offered to youth through the Department of Homeland Security's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Under the BRIDGE Act, young people who came to the United States as children would maintain their eligibility to work and live in the U.S. without the fear of deportation and family separation so long as they meet certain requirements, such as showing a commitment to education or honorable service in our military and having no history of serious crime.

There are more than 750,000 young people who have received and benefitted from DACA. These youth entered the U.S. as children and know America as their only home. They are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities. As Catholics, we have long supported DACA youth and their families as we believe in protecting the dignity of every human being, especially that of our children. 

Ask your Senators and Representative to support and co-sponsor the BRIDGE ACT 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Let Lawmakers Know Your Support for Immigrants and Refugees

USCCB's Justice for Immigrants Issues Action Alert

Background: 
President Donald Trump has issued an Executive Order that has devastating impacts on refugee resettlement in the United States. The Executive Order:

  • Halts the entire refugee admissions program for 120 days to determine additional security vetting procedures;
  • Cuts the number of refugees admitted in FY 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000;
  • Suspends resettlement of refugees from Syria;
  • Suspends the issuance of visas to individuals from countries of concern, including Syria, Iraq, Iran and other countries.

The U.S. refugee resettlement program is a life-saving program for the most vulnerable of the world's refugees. Welcoming people fleeing violence and conflict in various regions of the world is part of our identity as Catholics. We seek to protect the vulnerable and recognize the human dignity of all. Moreover, when the United States through its resettlement program shares responsibility with refugee host countries, it helps the refugees, supports the countries, and helps to enhance peace, security, and stability to sensitive regions in the world. Today, with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, the need for the U.S. to show leadership in welcoming refugees and provide freedom from persecution is more urgent than ever.

Refugees who come through the program go through a rigorous, extensive vetting process. The Executive Order halts the arrival of refugees for at least 120 days, including those who have already gone through up to two years of vetting. This will affect some families already in transit. Standing up for refugees and for the life-saving resettlement program is consistent with our values as Americans and as Catholics.

Contact Form

USCCB Committee On Migration Chair Responds To Trump Administration Sanctuary City Executive Order

Order could be injurious to local relationships between communities and law enforcement where building trust and supportive relations with immigrant communities is essential to reducing crime and helping victims

Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas and chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Migration has issued the following statement in response to the executive order that would deny federal funding for jurisdictions that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants:

I share the concern that all of us feel when someone is victimized by crime, especially when the perpetrator of that crime is someone who is in the United States without authorization. I urge our local, state, and federal elected officials to work together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that all persons — U.S citizens and newcomers alike — are protected from individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety. I am concerned, however, by the Executive Order issued by the President on January 25, 2017. This order would force all jurisdictions to accept a one-size-fits-all regime that might not be best for their particular jurisdictions.  

We believe in the inherent value of subsidiarity, and as spiritual leaders who minister to and live every day in our communities, we recognize the importance of relationships between local law enforcement and the people of the communities that they police. My brother bishops and I work to engage both local law enforcement and immigrant communities and help to foster dialogue between the two. We know that cooperative relationships between law enforcement and immigrant communities are vital. I fear that this Executive Order may be injurious to that vital necessity.

I have enormous respect for and value our federal law enforcement agents who risk their lives every day to enforce our immigration laws. I also recognize that there may well be situations where local government feel they need to foster a relationship with their communities by working with the victims of or witnesses to crime without instilling a fear that by coming forward, they or their family members will be handed over to immigration authorities.  

As Archbishop Cordileone eloquently wrote in July of 2015 when confronted by tragedy in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, "Over the long-term, and in conjunction with my fellow bishops, I call upon Congress and the Administration to work together to comprehensively repair our nation's flawed immigration system, a system that divides families and undermines human dignity. Such reform, long overdue, should preserve family unity, ensure the due process of law, protect those fleeing persecution, and ensure the integrity of our nation's borders."

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